When the SAP AppHaus in Heidelberg celebrated its first birthday, we held a retrospective with the entire team of the SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center to look back and to discuss what could be improved. This is when the topic of feedback crystallized and we realized, that we can do a lot more to learn from each other and together as a team. We even established a feedback workstream which is supposed to ensure that we live the “feedback spirit”.
In the following article we want to share our experiences with giving and receiving feedback as well as the value of creating and living a feedback culture.
How we drive a feedback culture at the DCC
Constructive feedback is an essential element of growth and improvement as well as a vital part of communication and building trust. But it is also a mindset which needs time to evolve. Only by incorporating feedback throughout the whole design process, we as design team can ensure that we create cutting-edge solutions for our customers. So our goal is to enable and motivate our team to “live” feedback in their daily business. While establishing the feedback culture within the team of the SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC), we have faced various challenges: The fear of negative feedback, feeling vulnerable, cultural differences, but also time issues and constraints due to tight deadlines, the risk of having more work after a feedback session, to name a few. Within our team we have tested and established the following different feedback types which we found to be valuable for the entire team:
- Feedback wall
Located in the middle of the work area and used mainly for feedback to smaller elements like logo variants, color options, screen layouts, and other print-outs. The respective items stay there for a limited time so that feedback can be given at any time, using Post-its.
- Mini feedback session
A spontaneous feedback round with a smaller audience of two to three people, e.g. for a feature within a screen, can serve as inspiring input and guide you towards the right direction.
- Classical feedback session
A session with a bigger audience to get feedback, e.g. for sketches, wireframes, or high-fidelity prototypes, which can take place at an early stage of the project or before the presentation to the customer.
“Feedback from the SAP Fiori design team helped me to reduce complexity and to align the design with the Fiori guidelines for a crucial customer project.” Jackson Mathai, Strategic Design Consultant, DCC, SAP
In the course of time we have realized that feedback is not only relevant to design work, but should equally be applied to other contexts as well. Feedback can encourage us to do better and thereby strengthen our capabilities which enables to us reach another, higher level. “If you want to go fast, go alone – if you want to go far, go together.” This is why we have established other formats of giving and receiving feedback:
- Reviews: Feedback is an essential element for our personal development and we have realized that we should dedicate time to this – at least twice a year. For the half-year review and year-end review we take our time and approach colleagues to collect feedback within the team which we then report to our manager in a one-on-one setting.
- Project feedback: We have noticed that feedback to a project and the collaboration of the people involved lets us grow as a team. We usually set expectations before we start working on a project and evaluate them once the project has been completed. This usually happens within the project team, but can also take place one-on-one and might go beyond the analysis of the project by considering more personal aspects.
- Presentation “dry run”: Running a presentation in front of a few colleagues in a presentation-like setting is a great possibility to improve your talk and strengthen your self-confidence before presenting to a customer or an external audience.
“Feedback from my team for the ETiCCS project in an early stage helped me to jump to a completely new level, as I got a lot of inspiring ideas!” Susi Benz, Strategic Design Consultant, DCC, SAP
This article has been written in collaboration with Susi Benz